Wizards fall in Game 1, 114-106

The playoffs officially tipped off for the 2017-18 Washington Wizards in Toronto on Saturday evening. In a back-and-forth Game 1, the Wizards fell to the Raptors, 114-106.

Otto Porter Jr. and Mike Scott returned for the Wizards, putting Washington at full strength heading into Game 1. John Wall finished with 23 points and 15 assists, Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Bradley Beal added 19 points to lead the Wizards. The Wizards showed fight throughout the game, but were unable to get it done in the fourth quarter.

For Toronto, Serge Ibaka led the team with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Delon Wright gave the Raptors a big boost off the bench with 18 points, while DeMar DeRozan (17 points) and Kyle Lowry (11 points) were fairly quiet scoring-wise.

The Raptors made a playoff franchise-record 16 3-pointers en route to the win, shooting 16-of-30 (53.3%) from deep. Toronto’s hot shooting from beyond the arc was the difference in the game especially considering the Wizards only made 8-of-21 from deep.

“The 3-point ball is very powerful," head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. "You either have to stop it or do it yourself. Tonight, we didn’t stop it.”

The Raptors came out early with a 12-0 run, taking advantage of the Wizards’ foul trouble at center. Both Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game, forcing the Wizards to play Morris and Scott as their bigs. Despite the challenge going up against Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl, Morris and Scott responded well with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Washington was able to force 11 Toronto turnovers for 12 points in the first half, locking down Raptors All-Stars Lowry and DeRozan. Toronto’s backcourt was held to only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting with four turnovers in the opening half. If not for seven 3-pointers, the Raptors would have trailed by more at the half even after controlling the first quarter.

Sparked by a 15-2 run, the Wizards would head into halftime leading 59-55. Wall distributed the ball impressively in the second quarter, dishing out six assists and going into the locker room with a double-double (13 points and 10 assists).

Lowry and DeRozan came out firing out of the half, anchoring an 11-2 run for the Raptors to re-take the lead. The Wizards did not play well to begin the third quarter, and it cost them.

"I thought that start of the second half they jumped on us and for some reason we didn’t lock in those first few minutes, I think they had 11 points in two minutes or so," Brooks said. "Playoff basketball you have to be ready to play the start of every quarter, and every minute, and that start that third quarter was costly."

Toronto led by one entering the fourth quarter, but the Wizards started to regain momentum with a 92-89 lead. Following a flagrant foul called on Scott, the Raptors went on a 7-0 run and really took back control of the game. The Raptors’ depth showed in the fourth quarter, especially as the team used an 8-0 run to go up 103-96. C.J. Miles in particular hit some big 3-pointers to lead the Wizards.

Of note, Morris went down with a left ankle injury late in the fourth. He returned a minute or so later, but he was clearly a bit banged up. Luckily for the Wizards, there are two days before Game 2 on Tuesday.

Game 2 tips off on Tuesday at 7:00pm from Toronto as the Wizards will try to even the series before playing two back in D.C.

"We take it a game at time," Beal said postgame. "We had opportunities -- several opportunities -- to win tonight and close it out, but we didn’t. You know, you brush it off and move forward. We got another one on Tuesday."

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